A lawyer friend of mine told me about her experience taking the Law School Admission Test. This intensive exam takes about three hours and you are not allowed to leave until it is complete. During the LSAT she started her period but couldn’t excuse herself from the room. Once it was over she asked a friend to go get a jacket she could tie it around her waist.
That errand forced her to stay planted in her seat for almost an hour until her friend returned. All the while, she made excuses to anyone who asked that she was staying behind in the empty room to relax.
I remember being in high school and hanging out with a friend at McDonald’s after a football game. I didn’t realize what had happened until I got up to leave, and happened to glance back at the plastic bench.
I was horrified at the carnage I saw and jumped back on to the bench while a fellow soldier in the Menses Army rushed outside and pulled the car right up to the door so I could make a quick escape. I’m just so sorry for the cleanup some poor worker had to make. I hope they thought it was ketchup.
My poor sister was singing in the church choir when her cycle arrived one Sunday morning. The robes were stark white, and our choir always exited the sanctuary ceremoniously before the congregation left. So half the church learned she had started her period before she found out.
Adding insult to injury is the equipment we are given to handle these situations, i.e. the tampon. This cotton cork of torture frustrated many of us as teens, as we spent an embarrassingly long time in the bathroom fumbling our way through the process of getting the first one properly positioned.
But sometimes the process isn’t foolproof. A friend of mine went skiing on a Tennessee lake one summer just to have it shoot out of her like a torpedo when she lost her balance and hit the water. As she was helped back into the boat, there was her tampon bobbing on the surface beside the boat.
We have also learned that you get what you pay for. While it may be OK to save money by buying certain generic products, tampons are not one of them. Imagine my surprise when I was changing my off-market brand in a friend’s bathroom, and just pulled out a string. Just because the fishing line broke I still had to go recover my catch. I never skimped on buying the best brands after that.
And being distracted is not just a driving issue. Sometimes in the moment you can’t remember if you have already put a new tampon in. You try to make a determination and don’t see any signs. So you assume you forgot.
A few hours later, when you discover not one string but two, you have a near nervous breakdown and spend the next day reevaluating how overwhelmed you are in your life.
So ladies, next time you find yourself in a situation that requires covert efforts in order to hide your period, raise your little bathroom bag in solidarity and remember you are not alone.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter